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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Concert Review: Van Halen in Clevelend, OH USA (October 10, 2007)

On the seventh show of the tour -- the newly re-constituted, rejuvenated -- the "three-parts original and one part inevitable" VAN HALEN rolled into Cleveland, Ohio USA to reconnect with fans who have waited twenty years to see David Lee Roth share a stage once more with Guitar God Eddie Van Halen. It also happened to be David Lee Roth's 53rd birthday.


Even all these years later, I remember the time AND the place. It was the end of January 1978 -- a couple days after the January 25, 1978 KISS ALIVE! II concert here in Buffalo, NY USA. I had just gotten home from high school, and just like ritual, I turned on my stereo to the local classic rock station -- 97 ROCK. The jock, whose name I do not remember off-hand had said that a new album had just arrived -- which would be released in two weeks -- and we just had to hear this new guitar player -- who was destined to set the world on fire, the guy said.

Then he proceeded to play the guitar solo ERUPTION and its' follow-up track -- a ballsy cover of The Kinks' YOU REALLY GOT ME. My jaw fell open in a "HOW does he do that?!," kind of way. Any way you want to look at it, on that day, at that moment, I heard the future of rock and roll! All though the rest of high school and college, I had a favorite rock band that I followed around nearly as much as some followed the Grateful Dead.

Every spring from 1978 to 1984 -- when VAN HALEN would release their new album and tour, I would disappear for a week or ten days, and see all the shows in my area -- Buffalo, NY; Cleveland, OH; Rochester, NY; Syracuse, NY; and Niagara Falls, NY USA. And, then there were the Canadian shows -- Hamilton, Ontario; Toronto, Niagara Falls; and Montreal. This was yearly ritual -- and I made sure that I got the time off of school, work, or whatever else was in my life that could be moved temporarily.

When Roth and the band parted ways -- I hoped that last night would always happen. It was better than I thought it might be. And, it wasn't just the thrill of anticipation -- they rocked Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena for two and a half hours -- and the SOLD-OUT show had everyone in attendance on their feet the entire time.

I won't talk about the set list or the Michael Anthony controversy -- simply because those issues have been adequately covered by others who have come before me on earlier shows on the tour. Check out the VAN HALEN NEWS DESK if this is the information you are after. But, there are a few things about which I would like comment ...

First of all, anyone worried that WOLFGANG VAN HALEN is not comparable to the always solid MICHAEL ANTHONY on Bass Guitar -- as a 29 year fan of the band -- I can tell you to assuage your concerns -- the young man delivered a new dimension to the band AND its' sound -- it is much more HEAVY than ever before. The bottom bass-guitar line is much heavier and deeper sounding than Michael Anthony ever was.

The songs that really displayed this HEAVINESS were; I'm The One, Romeo Delight, Somebody Get Me A Doctor, Atomic Punk, Everybody Wants Some!!, Mean Street, And The Cradle Will Rock ..., Hot For Teacher, Panama, and Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love. Anthony had a more thumb popping sound with his bass guitar. At least with the songs they are performing on this tour -- Wolfie's sound fits much better to my sensibilities.

Here, we have the three Van Halen's Eddie [lead guitar], Alex [drums], and Wolfie [bass guitar].

The kid is a damn excellent bass player -- and I have to give him credit -- especially knowing what kind of whirlwind he has just been thrust in the middle of.

The second issue on the Internet has been speculation about young Master Van Halen's ability to sing background vocals on a par with Michael Anthony. Well, we can put THIS ONE TO BED AS WELL. There were five songs in particular that brought chills to my spine to hear the backing vocals -- they were that perfect. I'm The One, Beautiful Girls, Mean Street, Little Dreamer, and Jamie's Cryin' were these songs, and the stand-out track here was definitely Little Dreamer.

The one thing that surprised me was when my housekeeper -- a nice young black lady named Brandi -- asked me in a earnestness if I had an extra ticket. Also, at the show, the black security and ushers who were standing next to me in the isle and were dancing and shaking their asses to the music. EVERYONE it seems, knows about this reunion with David Lee Roth!

In attendance, we had everyone from five year-old children and their parents, to original fans from 1978 -- and everyone in between. We had people dressed like business executives, to those who look like a great night out is a few beers and a round of table billiards at their local tavern. I just wish my own son was a little older, because he love listening to VH in the house here.

The next issue being discussed online has been related to the "how long is this going to last?" argument, especially given the former bad blood between these band members and David Lee Roth. I will do no finger-pointing here -- but we have all heard the stories, and maybe even seen some backstage embarrassments with our own eyes. But, both sides had likely come to the realization that each in their own way -- had hit bottom and had nowhere else to go.

I mean, Roth had recently released a bluegrass CD entitled STRUMMIN' WITH THE DEVIL -- and no one at all had heard anything but five new tracks from VH in the past TEN YEARS -- besides getting dropped from their label. So, there were likely two things to do here -- pack it in for good and call it a career -- or do the quasi-reunion thing -- which is currently filling arenas again at $125.00 per ticket.

So, for once -- us fans got what WE wanted -- one rocking night of old memories. The faces in the crowd haven't changed -- they just got a little older, that's all.

© 2007 Kentroversy Papers
All rights reserved. Used with permission.


The following sources were used in the creation of this Kentroversy Paper . . .

Van Halen Official Website

Van Halen Official Website

Van Halen News Desk

Van Halen I (1978) compact disc (Remastered)

Van Halen II (1979) compact disc (Remastered)

Van Halen - Women and Children First (1980) (Remastered)

Van Halen - Fair Warning (1981) (Remastered)

Van Halen - Diver Down (1983) (Remastered)

Van Halen - 1984 (1984) (Remastered)


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